If you’ve been hesitating to return to your favorite health club or gym due to worries about the coronavirus, here is some encouraging news: According to a new report that studied millions of member check-in data across thousands of fitness facilities nationwide, fitness centers are not — repeat, not —contributing to the spread of COVID-19.
The study, conducted by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) and MXM, which specializes in member tracking within the fitness industry, analyzed data collected from May 1 through August 6, 2020, across 2,873 facilities across the country, including Life Time, with self-reported infection rates.
After examining nearly 50 million check-ins over that three-month period, the study found that 0.0023 percent of those check-ins corresponded to positive COVID-19 tests. According to the report, that’s because fitness centers nationwide have adopted robust COVID-19 cleaning and social-distancing measures since the onset of the pandemic earlier this year.
“It’s become abundantly clear that the safety measures gyms, sports clubs and boutique fitness centers have in place are … incredibly effective at keeping their membership safe,” said MXM CEO Blair McHaney.
This is reassuring news for members who have been wary of reentering indoor spaces due to concerns about air quality, coming into close contact with other people, or using equipment that others have touched.
“The check-in data proves that health clubs — when following strict cleaning and safety protocols — are safe,” adds Brent Darden, IHRSA interim President and CEO. “With proper sanitization protocols in place, people can safely return to their workout routines.”
As for Life Time’s efforts, chief operating officer Jeff Zwiefel notes that for the 10.3 million visits recorded in the three-month period, the data is similar. “Most importantly,” he says, “we aren’t aware of any case that originated in our clubs.”
What’s more, Zwiefel explains that Life Time has been recognized as the leader by state health inspectors and members across the country for the rigorous COVID-19 safety protocols that it’s put in place: “Exercise is of vital importance to the health and well-being of all individuals. With our unwavering commitment to help people live healthier lives, we have gone to great lengths to ensure that our environment is safe and comfortable for our members and guests.
“From our rigorous enhanced cleaning protocols, social-distancing measures, temperature screenings for both members and team members, and enhanced air quality standards to the advance registration for classes and capacity restrictions, we have embarked on the most comprehensive approach to ensure we fulfill our mission to meet or exceed the safety needs of our members.”
While public-health officials nationwide continue to stress the importance of social distancing and donning a mask as a first line of defense against COVID-19, working out is increasingly being considered as yet another viable strategy — whether it’s done in the comfort of your own home, inside a gym, or in a health club’s outdoor space.
Exercise supports immune-system function by raising levels of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies, increasing circulation, and decreasing the production of stress hormones. Physical activity provides the movement the body needs to oxygenate, circulate blood and nutrients, and eliminate cellular waste. And blood vessels play a key role in aiding the lymphatic system’s transport of immune factors.
So, if a health club is a key part of your plan for sticking with a consistent workout regimen — and if that routine has taken a hit as a result of the pandemic — consider the statistics above. And know that the team at Life Time is working diligently to keep our spaces safe and clean for you and fellow members when you’re ready to return.